Gardaí said they were “forced to intervene when large groups with opposing views gathered in the City Centre from early afternoon” yesterday in the Molesworth Street, Kildare Street and Stephens Green areas.
The protest involved anti-mask, anti-lockdown groups, including the National Party, according to the Irish Times.
The paper reports that this group was met by a group of at least 100 counter-protestors, with gardaí at times struggling to contain violent exchanges between both sides.
Irish Times reporters described the counter-protestors as “masked and mostly dressed in black, who marched towards Leinster House chanting “Nazi scum, off our streets”.
The anti-lockdown protestors at Leinster House began to chant “Antifa” at the counter-protestors as they moved closer, and violent clashes ensued when both sides were within yards of another, according to the paper.
Its reporters described violent scenes: “Dozens of people on both sides threw punches and kicks, while nuts, bolts, fireworks, and other projectiles were launched. Nearby gardaí on bicycles quickly dismounted, threw them to one side, drew their batons and rushed in to break up the violence.”
The two men arrested at the protest, one in his 30s and the second in his 40s, were detained for Public Order offences after the two protest groups began to assemble from 12.30pm.
A full Garda operation was in place from early morning, involving up to 100 Garda personnel supported by the Garda Dog and Mounted Units.
In a statement, gardaí said: “Garda members were forced to intervene on a number of occasions during the course of the afternoon to keep opposing sides apart and maintain public safety before the groups eventually dispersed without any serious incident shortly after 3.30pm.”
Gardaí said an investigation focused on the organisers of both protests is now underway.
“Although the Public Health regulations do not prohibit protest marches or gatherings, they do provide an offence for a person to organise such events. An Garda Síochána is investigating all such protest marches,” gardaí said.